Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Last week we moved from our exploration of features of argumentative writing to text structure.  On Wednesday, we began with the following writing activity using these images I projected onto the board with the LCD projector and these prompts: Once students had time to think and write, we came together for whole class discussion to … Continue reading Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Counterclaim Station Throwdown

After introducing claim statements with a task card walk last Wednesday, we then began inquiring into counterclaims and rebuttals on Thursday and Friday.   I decided to do station rotations as our learning activity, and after a little tweaking with my first two classes, I polished the learning structure for my final two groups. We began … Continue reading Counterclaim Station Throwdown

Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Taking a page from the playbook of Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy, I decided to introduce our new unit on argumentative writing with some informal debate.  On Day 1, we started with this ticket in the door that surveyed students on what they knew about debate.  Students engaged in partner talk (I recommend the … Continue reading Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

A few weeks ago my students completed a Book, Head, Heart set of reflections as a formative assessment and reflection for their day of in-class reading of their choice library books. I borrowed this strategy from Bob Probst and Kylene Beers; you can read more about BHH in their book Disrupting Thinking.   Once they completed composing … Continue reading Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Right after the first of the year, one of my favorite teachers and literacy leaders, Sarah Brown Wessling, posted this video about taking her class on the move.  Last year, I crafted and incorporated many learning activities for my high school students that involved movement, and I've continued that with my 8th graders during the … Continue reading Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Supporting Young Readers: Developing Reading Club Conversation Skills

In my last blog post, I outlined the prep work we did leading up to our "birds of feather" topics reading club meetings to help students dig more deeply into their readings and to come prepared for the reading club discussion. Prior to our club meetings, students brainstormed meeting etiquette and expectations: We also incorporated … Continue reading Supporting Young Readers: Developing Reading Club Conversation Skills

Scaffolding Student Prep Work for Birds of Feather Reading Club Meetings

In my last post, I outlined how I organized a topic tasting, how birds of feather interest groups were formed, and the planning that student groups did collaboratively to divide and assign readings within their topic area from the text set.  In today's post, I'll share the prep work we did over four days to … Continue reading Scaffolding Student Prep Work for Birds of Feather Reading Club Meetings

Forming Birds of Feather Reading Clubs with Informational Texts and Topic Tasting

Our district pacing guide calls for a focus on informational reading and writing during the second nine weeks of the academic year.  Originally, 8th grade had planned to do nonfiction book clubs, but after realizing the books would not arrive in time to do that in the fall, I suggested to my fellow 8th grade … Continue reading Forming Birds of Feather Reading Clubs with Informational Texts and Topic Tasting

Introducing Nonfiction Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies to 8th Grade Readers

This past week we began our study of informational text and writing for Quarter 2.  I am so excited that our pacing guide pairs informational text with informational writing and then allows a second round of study in Quarter 3 to build student stamina with informational text and argumentative writing (we'll be engaging in nonfiction … Continue reading Introducing Nonfiction Notice & Note Stances, Signposts, and Strategies to 8th Grade Readers

Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations

In my last two posts, I wrote about some of the learning activities we did in my 8th grade Language Arts classroom to set the stage to do some collaborative work with theme.  Using the structure and materials from this "Discovering Theme" activity with learning stations as my framework, we spent roughly 4.5 days of … Continue reading Seeing the Big Picture with Theme: Collaborative Work + Learning Stations